Affils nix ‘Queer’ promo

Locals unhappy with Bravo show's ad prominence

A number of TV stations affiliated with NBC are ready to go to war with the network over its plan to run day/date promos for a new series on its wholly owned cable network Bravo.

The series is “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which kicks off on Bravo July 15 at 10 p.m. with a special two-episode premiere. The reason for the affiliate uproar is that NBC is flouting tradition: When a broadcast network accepts a 30-second spot touting a cable net show, the practice is for the broadcaster to allow only a generic message, such as: “Watch ‘Sex and the City’ on HBO.”

“I’m not terribly pleased with what NBC is doing,” said Roger Ogden, general manager of KUSA Denver and chairman of the NBC board of affiliates. The board plans to hold a conference call to discuss the “Queer Guy” issue in the next few days, Ogden said.

‘Departure for NBC’

Ed Munson, regional VP of LIN Television and general manager of WAVY Norfolk, Va., said, “This is a departure for NBC. We don’t allow day/date advertising for a cable show on our local stations.”

In response, John Miller, co-president of the NBC Agency, acknowledged day/date promos are an “emotional issue” for NBC stations but said that, in exchange for inserting the specific night and time into the “Queer Guy” spot, Bravo sets aside commercial pods to promote NBC shows with similar detail.

If “Queer Guy” becomes a hit on Bravo, Miller said, more viewers will watch the network and stumble across the NBC spots. And Bravo has plenty of room for Nielsen improvement: Even though its primetime ratings grew by 10% in the second quarter, the network still manages to reach only 306,000 total viewers, on average.

NBC’s highest-rated cable network is MSNBC, which shot up by 73% in the second quarter among total viewers due to coverage of the Iraq war and its aftermath. But an average of only 565,000 viewers watch MSNBC in primetime, putting it in a tie for 23rd place among all basic cable nets.

Cross-promotion between NBC and its cable networks is one of Miller’s strategies. The most Nielsen-challenged of NBC’s cable nets is CNBC, which fell off in total primetime viewers by 15% in the second quarter. Only 192,000 viewers watch CNBC in primetime, on average, putting it near the bottom of the cable pile.

But some affiliate general managers are not buying NBC’s argument that day/date promos of cable shows will steer more viewers to Bravo, MSNBC and CNBC, thus making their promos of NBC shows more valuable to the affiliates.

One general manager said his station is prepared to cover over any specific day/date “Queer Guy” spots with a promo for his local newscast.

Seeking signature show

Bravo has high hopes for “Queer Guy” as a potential signature show. Its premise is that five gay men, experts in the fields of “food and wine, grooming, interior design, fashion and culture,” take a heterosexual man under their wing and give him a complete life makeover.

David Metzler and David Collins created “Queer Guy” for Scout Prods.

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